These presentations were delivered through the association’s Virtually Live (VLive) training initiative. According to IABA Executive Director Tony Passwater, these meetings were held to discuss “new regulations coming from the federal government over the next two to four months. The government will be making some major changes to the FLSA.”
Currently, an employee must make a salary of $23,000 to be considered exempt, but the government is discussing raising that requirement to $50,000. Passwater predicts, “Shops will need to convert employees to hourly wages, making them eligible for overtime, or raise their salary over $50,000. Even if an employee makes the minimum amount, they’re still unlikely to pass the duty test that requires them to have direct reports to qualify for exempt status; 90% of positions within the collision repair industry don’t meet this requirement.”
Passwater also discussed the importance of employee handbooks, reminding attendees that it’s not complete once it’s put together. “It must be legally correct, and shops must update their handbooks regularly because they will be held to it. Most importantly, the handbook must include arbitration clauses, or court costs could rise into the hundreds of thousands.”
In addition to qualifying as a service business, a shop must pay its employees at least one-and-a-half times the minimum wage for them to be exempt. Shops must also require employees to clock in and out, even if they work on commission. “Many shops don’t do that which can allow employees to go to the labor board and say they’re working 50-60 hours weekly,” Passwater warns. “The employee is always right if there’s no documentation.”
Passwater also talked to attendees about protecting themselves in terms of liability, and he predicts that these new requirements will cause much concern in the next few months. The New Albany chapter held their meeting on Monday, February 8 at Tuckers, and the next day, the Bloomington chapter’s meeting took place at the Crazy Horse Food and Drink Emporium. The Fort Wayne chapter held their meeting at the Lucky Moose on Wednesday, and on Thursday, February 11, the Indiana NW chapter held a morning meeting at Gino’s Steakhouse in Merrillville, IN, with the Indianapolis chapter holding their meeting that evening at Rick’s Boatyard and Café.
Passwater said attendees responded well to the information shared, but attendance fluctuates drastically. While he believes there’s a lot of value in attending meetings and networking with peers, it is not necessary for shops to receive the education they need. The VLive concept was created because of the difficulty of finding speakers to travel to five locations in one week, so Passwater has begun interviewing industry speakers remotely or acquiring permission to use content which can be distributed electronically to IABA’s five chapters.
Since meetings generally last no more than two hours, the VLive system also contains an online training portal that is free to members. Here, Passwater posts the full content of the educational sessions, giving industry professionals a chance to learn more at their convenience. Non-members ca purchase access to this useful information. Passwater says, “We want to create more value for our membership. We’re trying to get this information out there, regardless of attendance, and I see virtual learning as the future for all of IABA’s meetings.”